Tom Copley tells Oona’s people to back off

Jim Fitzpatrick wrote last week to Labour’s general secretary Ray Collins to accuse him and the NEC of rigging the London mayoral selection process in favour of Ken Livingstone.

Fitzpatrick’s main complaint was that the 50/50 split between Labour members and trade union votes was somehow out of the ordinary and unfair.

Yet this is exactly the same system approved by the NEC years ago, and was the process used to select Nicky Gavron as Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2004. (She subsequently withdrew when Ken was readmitted to the Labour party).

Lord Toby Harris, on his blog, was the first to hit back at Jim Fitzpatrick’s claims. As he points out, the AM/MP section of the electoral college used in the original mayoral selection in 2000 was controversial and considered deeply unfair as it gave a disproportionate influence to a small group of people.  Unlike the contest for leader of the Labour party (or Scottish and Welsh leaders) there is no real need for the mayoral candidate to have the confidence of London’s MPs or AMs.  This is, after all, an executive mayor, not a parliamentary leader.

There followed a three page letter from Ray Collins addressing each of Fitzpatrick’s accusations in full, all of which turned out to be baseless.

Fitzpatrick’s letter is the latest in a series of attacks on Ken by Oona King’s supporters, who seem more interested in smearing the ex-mayor than promoting their own candidate. It was followed by a facebook group entitled “Grassroots campaign for a fair selection of Labour’s London mayor candidate”. Interestingly, nearly all of its members are Oona King supporters.

Then there’s the shadowy @No2Ken Twitter feed, which purports to support Oona King for mayor, and spouts daily bile against Ken.  I hope that this has nothing to do with Oona’s official campaign; she ought to disown this kind of negative campaigning against her opponent.

King’s camp favour two completely contradictory options for the selection process:  either a simple one member one vote ballot of Labour members, or an electoral college which would give Labour members, affiliates and London Labour MPs and AMs a third of the vote each.  This betrays their real agenda, which is to disenfranchise union members who, broadly speaking, are inclined to favour Ken.

The union section gives a vote to hundreds of thousands of trade union members in London.  There are far more trade union members than Labour members.  These are the people who will pay for the Tory/Lib Dem cuts with their jobs, and who need a mayor of London who will stand up for them and defend services in London.  Through their union political funds they also provide the bulk of Labour’s finance.  Should we really tell them they can’t have their say over who should be Labour’s mayoral candidate?  The phrase “slap in the face” comes to mind.

Quite how Jim Fitzpatrick was able to write a letter accusing the party machine of somehow rigging the selection process in favour of Ken is beyond me.  I don’t recall him complaining back in 2000 when the process was rigged against Ken.

Perhaps he is suffering from some sort of amnesia.  The fact is that even after eight very successful years as mayor, and having rejoined the Labour fold in 2004, the party machine is at best ambivalent towards Ken.  There are still many senior figures within the London Labour party who will never forgive him for standing as an independent candidate in 2000 and who would never back him, no matter what policies he may articulate or however electorally popular he may prove.

What’s more, those who oppose Ken have turned to ageism to attack him.  Nick Raynsford weighed in to the debate on Ken’s age – saying that he himself was 65 and would not consider running for Mayor because he was too old.  Fine, Nick – if you don’t feel up to it then don’t run.  But Ken clearly does feel up to it.  If you don’t like Ken, attack him on policy rather than hiding behind the pretence that at 65 he’s somehow not up to the job.

I’m backing Ken because he has proved himself to be a strong, bold and radical leader.  Although defeated at the last election he outpolled Labour in the rest of the country by a mile. He only needs a 4% swing to Labour to win next time.  Of course he’s not perfect.  Who is?  When it comes down to the substantive issues of leadership and policy he wins every time.

You can follow Tom Copley on Twitter.

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6 Responses to “Tom Copley tells Oona’s people to back off”

  1. I Disagree says:

    I can’t tell you the number of people I have spoken to who are – in some cases – Labour Party members, who will not vote Labour if Ken wins the nomination.

    I don’t think that there’s a real understanding out there as to how divisive, and tired, a figure Ken Livingstone is.

    Some of us have never forgiven him for running an anti-Labour campaign, and then packing his administration with activists in Socialist Action, an anti-Labour Trotskyist Entryist group.

  2. […] mayoral rival Oona King. The mayoral nomination battle is heating up with accusations being aimed at King for coordinating a “series of attacks on Ken by Oona King’s supporters, who seem […]

  3. Cat says:

    Well said Tom, a good analysis and I agree with you. I hope Oona’s official campaign have nothing to do with the nasty negative campaigning. And as a trade unionist I agree that it will be working people in London who need a Mayor who will stand up for them against the Tory-Lib government’s cuts. I’ve decided to back Ken for Mayor too!

  4. Gerard Killoran says:

    What will Jim Fitzpatrick do when he hears that Muslims support Ken?

  5. This writer wants nothing more than for Ken Livingstone to win the Mayoral election, but….For more comment see;

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